Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Geeky One

Most of the work for the graduate program I'm in is done online. There are 8 of us in what they call a "cohort" and we meet only occasionally at this point. Due to the fact that we're in RURAL Oklahoma, and the fact that there's been some sort of jihad between the smaller universities and what territories they cover, we met last week at a Dairy Queen in a tiny town called Tishamingo. No kidding. Trying to set up these meetings has given the whole experience a cultish feel.

Me: How about we meet here?
Professor: That's in their territory.
Me: There?
Professor: No, we have to be more than 20 miles from their headquarters.
Me: What happens if we meet at my house but don't tell anyone where we're meeting?
Professor: They'll find out, they're everywhere. And that would jeopardize you in a way that I'm not comfortable with.

Ok, I'm exaggerating but only slightly. It's crazy. You'd think we were strategizing the overthrow of every Elks Lodge East of I-35 (the small town Elks Lodge is another post unto itself). But no, we're just a bunch of public school teachers trying to get a master's degree so that we can raise our salary a whole $800 a year.

Our professor posed a question at the table last week, actually it was a table pushed up to a booth but let's not get picky here, in an attempt to find out what our motivations were for being in the program. Being public school teachers, most people have the noble goal of actually wanting to learn more so that they could be a more effective teacher. At least that's what they said. One person admitted that this was merely a stepping stone toward her ultimate goal of becoming a college professor. And we did have one member who's all ready obtained a job requiring a master's degree contingent on her participation in the cohort.

Thankfully, I was able to avoid speaking to the question. I wasn't the only one, so it wasn't awkward or anything. I did NOT want to share my motivations because honestly, the very first reason I'm in the program is because it's available. Much like those folks who climb Mt. Everest and when asked "why did you climb that mountain?" they answer with "because it was there." I felt similarly when I graduated from high school. People were congratulating me, throwing me gifts and money, and I was like, "what else was I going to do??? you mean there were options?"

But seriously, the heart of the matter is that I'm just a big geek. I love this stuff. When a professor starts talking about the new brain research and how that impacts what we know about learning styles and developmental psychology my endorphins go bonkers. If we had our meetings in a pentecostal church, I'd probably start speaking in tongues. Being that we meet at Dairy Queen, I guess this would be a more fitting representation. (the good part starts at 51 secs in)

I do stay somewhat at odds with my inner geek because I want to be liked. I don't want the other kids in the class to roll their eyes every time I open my mouth or be sitting there thinking "would she just shut UP." It's a struggle. And even though I made fun of the great big book I got.....well.....the truth is.....I LOVE that book. It's a good read. Seriously. There are things in that book that I've always wondered about in the field of education like, "how did we come up with the idea of junior high?" and "when and why did we switch from junior high to middle school?" and "how exactly do boys differ from girls in the way they process information and how much of that is due to environment?"

My taco salad kept me busy enough that I didn't make too much of a nuisance out of myself last week. I also don't want to be that person who keeps asking questions and talking when everyone just really wants it all to end so that we can all go back home.

If anyone was still wondering why I'm so comfortable teaching middle-schoolers, this post should should provide more clarity. I relate to them, probably way too well, but somebody's got to do it.

I do know one thing. I'm starving myself the day before our next meeting. It's been ages since I've had a DQ Dude, onion rings, and a Blizzard.

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